Three Ways To Create An Advocacy Program

In my new Forrester report, Three Ways To Find, Create, And Energize Advocates, we share data and examples of successful advocacy programs. We also recommend an approach to define and reach the best candidates for your advocacy program. 

Not all advocates are created equal—someone who “likes” your brand or follows you on Twitter is not an advocate (yet).  This is an important fact to realize before you plan and launch an advocacy program.  Building a program can be costly, so you need to invest wisely in advocates who can create the biggest bang for the buck.  While it’s nice to have anyone advocating on your behalf, you need to get the Mass Influencers doing so.

As introduced in the Forrester Peer Influence Pyramid, Mass Influencers are the minority of those in social media who create the majority of the influence posts and impressions about products and services.  These are the people who combine influence, trust, relevance and scale to create powerful advocacy. 

Three ways to create advocacy programs - Promote, Find or Attract

There are three ways to create mass-influencing advocates: 

  • Promote them:  Take people who have little influence on their own and make them Mass Influencers through involvement in your program.  The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is a successful example of this approach. 
     
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Google's Eric Schmidt, Serendipity And The Future Of Social Media

Eric Schmidt has seen the future, and it's "autonomous search." That's a fancy term that means "discovery." But no matter what words you use, it still means the same thing:  more empowered consumers and greater value in earned media. 

Some people are creeped out by portions of what Schmidt said, but he has suggested an exciting future for empowering people to create greater influence and be armed with timely, relevant, and useful information.  At TechCrunch Disrupt, Schmidt envisioned a future where people and technology come together to create "a serendipity engine . . . a new way of thinking about traditional text search where you don't even have to type."

As you look into the future, the distinction between “search” and “discovery” gets muddy.  While it sounds like science fiction to suggest that technology can help search for things you don’t even yet know you want, the opportunities to improve human discovery are very real.  Combining a person’s context—where they are, who they’re with—with their past opinions and actions and the opinions and actions of others can create tremendous value and relevance.

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Why Are Social Behaviors Plateauing?

Since 2007, Forrester has tracked the growth of social behaviors.  For years we’ve seen increases in more complex social behaviors such as Creators—those who generate social content including YouTube videos and blog posts.  But for the first time, we’re seeing a change in the growth trend.  Our latest 2010 Global Social Technographics report demonstrates that many social behaviors have reached a plateau.  Why, and what does this mean to marketers?

There is not a single answer to those questions.  The reasons span things as complex as human nature and as simple as Web site usability.  For example, is it sensible to believe that Creator behavior will ever be universal? Not every person has a burning need to be a reporter, an industry expert, a videographer, a musician, a thought leader, an editor or a broadcaster.  The fact that more than 1 in 5 online adults in the US are exhibiting Creator behavior is a testament to how social technologies have lowered the bar, since these tools have allowed more people to create and distribute their ideas, opinions and creations than was ever possible in the past. 

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Win A Signed Copy Of Empowered: Predict The Social Network Box Office

We're less than a week away from the release of The Social Network.  What do you think the film's US box office will be? Are we looking at a $150-million blockbuster?  A $100-million success?  Or a $50-million disappointment?  Post your predictions here or tweet them on Twitter to @augieray with the hashtag #SNBO (for Social Network Box Office), and you could earn not only bragging rights but also receive a free copy of Empowered, signed by best-selling author Josh Bernoff.  You must post your prediction before 8 a.m. PDT on Friday, October 1, and we'll declare a winner on Monday, October 25.  

It seems everyone in the world (or at least everyone in my world) is buzzing about The Social Network.  In case you're living in a cave, The Social Network is the fictionalized story of the founding of Facebook, featuring real-life characters such as Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Sean Parker, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. 

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Why Aren't Facebook Ads More Transparent?

For a company that thrives on transparency, Facebook's advertising isn't very transparent.  Check out your Facebook home page, note the ads on the right side, and tell me what companies they're for.  Sure, the ads probably cite brand or company names in the headlines and images, but who are the companies who paid for those ads? Where will you end up if you click those ads? And an ever better question is, what will happen if you "Like" the ad--will you be giving information to a trusted brand or a spammer?

Now go to Google, conduct a search, and check out the AdWords on the right side. Who sponsors those ads? And where will you end up if you click on those ads?

Google advertising is transparent, and Facebook advertising is not. The difference is a single line of text: AdWords creates transparency by including a "Display URL."  Within ad AdWords, advertisers can set different Destination and Display URLs, but the two must be within the same domain so that (in the word of Google's AdWords form), "users know what to expect when they click your ad."  (The reason there is a difference between the Destination and Display URLs is so that advertisers can direct people to a specific page in their domain while displaying the much shorter root domain in the ad ). 

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Breaking News: Twitter’s New User Interface And What It Means To You

On Tuesday, Twitter unveiled a new and improved user interface for its Web site.  Twitter’s new Web functionality is a significant evolution that promises to attract more visits to Twitter.com, improve Twitterers’ interactions with content and each other, and ease adoption for Twitter newbies.  The changes will roll out over the next few weeks, and there are implications for users and advertisers.  (For example, if you have one of those elaborate, custom background images that conveys URLs or contact data, I hope you’re not too attached to it.)

At first glance, the new Twitter.com interface seems to be a minor redesign of the current Web site.  The left column containing the tweet stream is largely untouched, but the right column holding Twitter follower counts and trending topics is much wider. The extra width accommodates a new “detail pane” that improves engagement with tweets and discovery of other Twitter users.

Click on a tweet in the left column, and the detail pane permits viewing and interaction with the content of that tweet. What is displayed in the detail pane depends on the nature of the tweet: 

  • Videos: If the tweet contains a link to a video from sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and USTREAM, that video plays in the detail pane.
  • Maps: If the tweet is a check-in via services such as foursquare, the detail pane displays a map.
  • Pictures:  If the tweet includes a link to a picture posted using services such as Flickr, DailyBooth, Twitpic  and DeviantArt, that image appears in the detail pane.
  • Hashtags:  If you click on a hashtag within a tweet, the detail pane conveys up-to-the-moment search results.
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Liveblogging From Twitter HQ For Special Announcement

Tonight (Tuesday, September 14) Twitter is holding a press event to make an announcement. The event is scheduled for 4 pm PDT (7 pm EDT). No details are available yet. I'll be attending the conference along with my peer Melissa Parrish.

If you're interested in getting the Twitter news as it is available, visit this page during the event and refresh often. Or, I'll also be sharing Twitter-sized updates via Twitter: @augieray.

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Live Blog Transcripts:

3:55 pm  The crowd is set and waiting for the Twitter press event to get underway. I'll update this page throughout the event--hit F5 or click the refresh button from time to time if you're following along live.

 4:06 pm  Biz Stone (@biz) and Evan Williams (@ev) are getting us kicked off.  There's an egg on the screen and Biz promises to tell us whats in the egg.

 4:10 pm  Ev says that "Twitter is getting better--and bigger." Twitter mobile users are up 250% this year, thanks to their own branded apps. 16% of new users getting started on mobile.

4:15 pm  Twitter levels the playing field between creators and consumers of content more than any other platform before. In the beginning, they put emphasis on publishing via Twitter, but in order to get started on Twitter, you don't have to tweet any more than you need to create a Web page to use the Web.

4:20 pm 90% of the content on Twitter is public, so helping people find the content relevant to them is the challenge. Twitter gets 90M tweets/day and growth continues quite strongly--chart shows no leveling of tweets/day!

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Empowered: Welcome To The Next Decade Of Your Career

Chances are if you’re reading this, you read Groundswell.  That book changed the way people think about social media, and Empowered, the sequel to Groundswell, will do the same.  While the earlier book was all about how consumers and brands connect in social channels, the new one is about how organizations must change to accommodate, retain and get the most from empowered consumers and employees. 

Today, many people seem to think social media has matured.  With Facebook drawing more than 500 million people and Twitter broadcasting 2 billion tweets per month, it seems as if we’ve arrived at the destination promised by Groundswell.  Social behaviors are ubiquitous—even a majority of seniors (65+) now consume social content according to the latest Forrester Social Technographics data. So, is social media done evolving and we can now return to "business as usual"? 

No, and that’s what makes Empowered so powerful—it presents the next phase in social media evolution, a phase that is going to be disruptive and painful to those companies and employees that are not prepared.  The changes social media have thus far brought to the enterprise have been relatively easy to accommodate, but the changes that are coming will not be. 

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Seeking Input On Social Media Management Platforms

I’m beginning to prep for a future report on a new breed of tools designed to help companies manage complex social media accounts, relationships, communications and internal roles.  If you have some experience, know some tools or just have some questions you’d like answered, please weigh in!

In the old days (of 2009) many brands had just one Twitter account and one Facebook account maintained by one (or a small set) of people, so the brand’s social media presence was relatively easy to maintain.   Today, the challenge is much greater—some brands have dozens of accounts in multiple languages focused on geographies ranging from the entire globe to individual countries and cities.  At the same time, demand has increased with a greater need to listen and respond to the growing audience in social media, and to handle that inflow, marketers are involving more and more employees.

We’re seeing the rapid development and adoption of a new breed of tools—call them Social Media Management Platforms—which include solutions from Buddy Media, Vitrue, Awareness, ExactTarget, StrongMail, Involver, Hootsuite, Context Optional, RightNow, Expion and others.

None of all of these tools offer the same set of features, and we'll see a great deal of change in the next couple of years as consumer demands, enterprise needs and social networks change.  For now, effective social media management requires a combination of:

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The Implications Of Consumers Spending More Time With Facebook Than Google

I'm always surprised when there's a great deal of news buzz over something everyone knew was going to happen.  When I lived in Milwaukee, we'd joke about the first snowfall of the year and the sorry assignment given the lowliest reporter to stand on a giant pile of municipal salt to report on the efforts to clean the streets. We all know it snowed, we can see the snowplows--what's newsworthy about this, exactly?

That's the way I felt reading all the headlines about comScore's report that time spent with Facebook exceeded Google in August.  Any informed person knew the trends and expected this to happen, so whether Google or Facebook is No. 1 is less interesting to me than what the trend really means.  This week's news is not as immediately dire for Google nor as immediately beneficial for Facebook as the headlines would imply. That said, the trends do highlight the fact that Facebook has succeeded where Google has not in creating a single, cohesive experience that gives today's consumers what they want.

When people hear the Google name, the first thing that comes to mind is the search engine which, of course, is not a place where people spend a lot of time--users search and leave quickly.  But Google has many popular "sticky" sites, such as YouTube and Gmail, and despite the news, these sites are not losing attention.  In fact, Google isn't shrinking while Facebook is growing, it's just that Google isn't growing as fast as Facebook. 

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